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August 19, 2020 7:05 am
A prophet of God is someone who acts like a watchman on the wall, always peering over the horizon to see if and when unsuspected danger is on the way. A prophet is also someone who leads his people toward godly living. And Jeremiah was like that in the aftermath of Jerusalem's destruction by the Babylonians. He guided the Israelites toward recovery. Today on INSIGHT for Living, Chuck Swindells sets the stage for this remarkable comeback story. And the parallels with a global pandemic of 2020 are fascinating to see. Referring to lamentations, Chuck titled today's Message Jeremiahs Journal of World.
If you have brought your Bible with you, please turn to the Old Testament and locate the Book of Lamentations. Lamentations, if you're unfamiliar with where it's located. It is among those major prophets, Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations is killed along in their. We want to provide a survey, sort of a fly over of this five chapter, most unusual book. And we will realize as we get into it just how how relevant and practical it is. But in the reading of it, admittedly, it's a sad account. In fact, I. I call today's message Jeremiahs Journal of Wolves. The prophet Jeremiah is writing and he's so walking through the remains of the city of Jerusalem after it has been.
Taken captive, destroyed a temple that has stood for for centuries.
Also in ruins, burned and in rubble in the Jeremiahs, heartsick, broken as he records what he witnesses and cries out to God. For God's strength and God's help. In the middle of it, he finds hope in God's faithfulness is we will see. I'll read excerpts from Chapter one, Chapter three and a few versus from Chapter five. I've taken my time here to give you time to locate limitations. I'm sure all of you have please stand for the reading of God's holy inspired word.
I'm reading from the new live translation.
Jerusalem, once so full of people, is now deserted. She, who was once great among the nations, now sits alone like a widow. Once the queen of all the Earth. She's now a slave. She sobs through the night, tears streaming down her cheeks among all her lovers, there is no one left to comfort her.
All her friends had betrayed her and become her enemies. Judah has been led away into captivity, oppressed with cruel slavery. She lives among foreign nations. And has no place of rest. Her enemies have chased her down. And she has nowhere to turn. The roads to Jerusalem are in mourning.
For crowds no longer come to celebrate the festivals. The Sydney gates are silent.
Her priests groan. Her young women are crying.
How bitter is her fate?
Look at the end of that chapter, the very last lines. Jeremiah. Writes with tears. I'm sure my growns are many.
And I am sick at heart.
Chapter three, there is a ray of hope when you get to verse 19. Please turn there. The familiar, most familiar part of lamentations includes words you have said and song. Throughout your Christian life may not have known where they relocated originally. Here they are, Lamentations three. Let me read from 19 through 25.
The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time as I grieve over my loss. Yet. I still dare to hope when I remember this. The faithful love of the Lord. Never ends his mercies, never cease. Great is his faithfulness, his mercies begin afresh. Each morning I say to myself, the Lord is my inheritance.
Therefore, I will hope in him.
The Lord is good to those who depend on him. To those who search for you.
And finally, chapter five, beginning at verse fifteen.
Joy has lift our hearts. Our dancing has turned to mourning. The garlands have fallen from our heads. Weep for us because we have sinned.
Our hearts are sick and weary and our eyes grow dim with tears, for Jerusalem is empty and desolate, a place haunted by Jekyll's. Milhaud. You remain the same forever. Your throne continues from generation to generation. Why do you continue to forget us? Why have you abandoned us?
For so long.
Heart rending, heart gripping words from a prophet who has spent years warning the people only to have them not only ignore him, but in fact mistreat him and finally fall into the slavery of the Babylonians.
You're listening to INSIGHT for Living to Search the Scriptures with Chuck Swindell. Be sure to download his searching the Scripture studies by going to insight world dot org slash studies.
And now the message titled Jeremiahs Journal of Woes.
It is remarkable how God leads us each day of our lives. I know that is a statement that is so obvious, I. It may not grip you as I wish it would. But I've experienced it in a whole new way. As a result of making a decision regarding what I should speak on during this Cauvin 19 virus that has lingered over the months since really January, but it's become much more known and felt and and tangible to all of us, really, as a march. Emerged and we all went into quarantine and all the things that followed. And I wondered, what could I do, what could I speak on that would address some things in that virus and the whole pandemic? What could be said that would. Address areas. We're all going through. Interestingly, how the Lord led, I'll not get into the weeds of all of that, but he made it very clear to me that I should teach I should lead us through the Book of Lamentations, as we pointed out, poems when Jeremiah is lamenting. This is a word for mourning. This is a word for great sadness. So the lamentations of Jeremiah would be his tears, his mornings, his sadness. And I thought, well, certainly there isn't a lot of celebration going on. A run covered 19. So that would fit. But I do confess to you, I've I've wondered as I got into the book, deeper in my study, how am I going to fit some of these scenes in that that really don't have a lot to do with with a virus, things like a chaos in the streets and a lack of joy and celebration in the cities. And how about being stripped away of its beauty? Is the JEREMI refers to Jerusalem and and all the destruction and suffering and death. Nothing was being destroyed in in the pandemic. And then suddenly last week happened. It's amazing. God knew all along that the very things that have gripped us and made us stare in amazement have tied in perfectly with various parts of each of these five chapters. Now, I don't know what that does for you, but I will tell you when you're when you're the preacher and you want to have always speak in a way that is relevant to meet the needs of people, you long to have the scriptures speak. I believe God's word is not only inspired, but as Paul writes to Timothy, it is profitable. And I have seen again and again how profitable this this book is. Just to remind you and I'll get into more of the other later. Just to remind you, Jeremiah is a prophet.
But he's an unusual prophet. He began as a very reluctant prophet.
You think of a prophet as someone who lives his life on tiptoe, ready to move quickly and to every opportunity, there is not Jeremiah, according to Chapter one of the book of Jeremiah and the sixth verse. He says, I'm young, which implies also why men experience. I'm not qualified to be your spokesman, Lord. Choose someone else, not me. He's a reluctant prophet. However, he becomes faithful to his calling and a he he puts his fears in his pocket, if you will. And he launches into his responsibility of telling the truth and announcing his warnings and and reminding the people of Jerusalem, you are continuing to wander especially into areas of of idolatry and sensuality and disobedience in so many ways. There is a price to pay for that. You're going to see how dreadful that will be. And so even though they they resented him and and they ignored him at best and persecuted him, persecuted him at worst, they even imprisoned him. They shoved him aside. They they ignored his message. He pressed right on. He faithfully carried it out. So you got to admire that about him. Jeremiah is a lonely man who may not know it, but according to Jeremiah, 16, verse two, the Lord said to the Prophet, I don't want you to marry. I don't want you to have children. So he spent his entire life as a single adult doing what he did with no one to come home to, no one to put her arms around him. No children to tell him how much they love him. He never had encouragement. That is domestic encouragement. He's a lonely prophet and often speaks of the of the loneliness. And to make the ultimate.
The worst scene of all. He literally watched the city. He loved.
It is it is destroyed. I was just reading this morning, and in one of the volumes I used in my research, the siege in Jerusalem lasted about 18 months.
Of enduring what we have witnessed for a week and a half or so, maybe two weeks. He wants mob violence take over, he watched the thugs of Babylon move in. He watched unfair treatment brought against some people and he saw consequences resulting from the way they had been living. I think if I were to pick of a verse, that would be a theme verse for for lamentations. It wouldn't be in lamentations. It would be in Proverbs Proverbs 13 fifteen. The way of the transgressor is hard when you transgress. When you spend your time at the gate. Hating the truth. Going against it. Fighting it. That gate will open against you and in will flood all kinds of misery, the way of the transgressor is hard and Jeremiah lives to witness it. The Babylonians come in and ultimately sack the city, destroy this magnificent temple of Solomon that has stood for four consecutive centuries, and now it's it's in ruins. And along with that, the people who were strong and many of them younger and and important for Babylon's future, are all marched away and taken 700 miles east to the region of Babylon. And there they live their lives. Jeremiahs lift, which gives you some idea of the Badalona, Ian's appreciation for him. They saw him as a as a as a has been. Who needs a man like that in Babylon? He is Bonnell getting up in a few years. And and and he he's left along with some who are infirmed, some who are aging, and some who kept couldn't make the trip for the head to walk the journey. If you can imagine a seven hundred mile journey and now he's left with the ruins, which is why he's led to write this this journal I'm calling it this journal of woe, his lamentations. If you will let me for a few more months, I'd like to. Do a little literary excursion with you through the book. I'm fascinated about things like this, and I think it will help make the book a little more meaningful for all of you. Right now, it's just a book filled with sadness and and woe. In fact, the old Bible teacher, Jay Sekulow Baxter, remember that name calls Lamentation and Elegy written in a graveyard. This is one sad book. It doesn't have a happy ending, though it does have a few rays of hope in the middle. As I read for you in Chapter three four, we get there. Well, you would have noticed something interesting about the book. Look at your Bible. Look at the number of verses in each chapter. So an unusual thing for a preacher to call attention to. But I'm going to do that. Look at chapter one. The company verses are in chapter one.
OK. Nothing big about that yet, but there are 20 to look at Chapter two.
How many verses are in Chapter two?
Mo. Twenty two again.
Look at Chapter four. I will skip three for a moment, look at Chapter four. How many verses in chapter? We'll look at that.
Now go back to Chapter three and notice how many are in that longest of the five.
It doesn't take a lot to excite a preacher. I mean, not that kind of thing is fascinating to me. And I'll tell you one minute when you go to Chapter five. Look at this. Wouldn't you know it? Back to 22. One, two, four and five have twenty two verses. Chapter three has 66. Now, we'll give you a little hint as to why in the Hebrew alphabet there are 22 letters. Called characters, now they're different from our letters, but they answer to our letters, our alphabet begins with a C, the Hebrew alphabet begins with all if all F. Our second letter is B and the Hebrew letter is Beth BGH, like our word, our name Beth. The third letter in our alphabet is C, but it's not a C in Hebrew. It's called Gimel. G.I. Emil. Interesting. It's it doesn't start with a C. Gebel The fourth letter is Dolev. That's the D. In answer to our D and there are 22 of those letters all the way down to the last letter of Tao, which answers to our T.. But our last letter is Z. Now, it's interesting that these chapters have the same number as the letters of the alphabet. It's because this is a very elaborate poem. You wouldn't know it because we read it in English. But when you read it in Hebrew, it's it's a beautiful poem. In each letter, in Chapter one.
And for I'll get to five in a minute. One, two and four.
Each verse begins with the next letter in the alphabet. So verse one of Chapter one begins with Olive. Verse two begins with Beit. First three begins with Gimel, verse four begins with Dolly and hey, while Zion captive youth cop Lembit made news. I make ICMP Saudi cooperation tão all 22 letters all the way through. Nothing exciting. Well, not yet. Not yet. Why would that be true? Why would Jeremiah Wright it that way?
Well, it was a memory assistant for children to memorize the book. He wanted the young never to forget. The fall of Jerusalem.
And the sadness of what he went through. And the heartbreaking scenes of a city he loved in all of its beauty, where people came from all around like they do today, they come from all over to visit site. The city of Jerusalem. But it's fallen.
So he wrote a poem. An elaborate poem.
Chapter one, every letter in the alphabet beginning each of the verses, Chapter two. Well, you've already guessed Chapter three, the first three verses begin with all in the next three verses begin with be the next three verses. Begin with give them the next three verses. Begin Radelet all the way through sixty six verses chapter four.
He goes back to the same acrostic. It's called an acrostic. Would you go through the alphabet and begin. And if you memorize you know you need clues along the way. I certainly use them when I memorize and every clue you can find, the easier it is to memorize. And one wonders how many children memorized at the feet of their parents, along with parents memorizing the lamentations of Jeremiah.
Well, we're just getting started with this important study and Chuck Swindells, new study in lamentations. This is Insight for Living and Shak titled Today's Message Jeremiahs Journal of Woes. To learn more about this ministry. Be sure to visit us at INSIGHT World dot org. In recent days, we've had a record number of people signing up to receive Chuks Daily devotional by e-mail. And we hope you're taking advantage of this daily dose of biblical encouragement to. There's no cost, of course. The daily devotional is absolutely free to subscribe. Just go to our home page at Incyte dot org and look for the simple instructions. We're living in harsh times when kindness is rare and shouting matches are all too commonplace. And yet God calls us to a higher place where to serve as beacons of light in a dark world. To that end, Chuck wrote a book called LAF Again. It's squarely founded on his study in Philippians. This book has helped millions around the world smile again as they learn to embrace God's prescription for joy.
You can purchase a copy of LAF again right now by going to INSIGHT, Don, or or by calling us if you're listening in the United States. Dial one 800, 772, 88, 88. In closing, let me say a word of thanks to our monthly companions and all those who give generously to insight for living ministries. You're accomplishing far more than you'll ever know because your gift allows us to reach into the hearts and homes of men and women all around the world. Recently, we received an encouraging note that read, I listened to your words when I was a teenager back home in the Philippines. Now I'm over 50 here in the U.S. and happy I found you again. Let's give a donation. Call us if you're listening in the U.S. dial one 877 to 88 88 or go to Insight DOT or. I'm Dave Spiker, Chuck's Wendel continues our study of Jeremiah's Journal of Woes.
Tomorrow on INSIGHT for Living.
The preceding message, Jeremiah's Journal of Wolves and the sound recording were copyrighted in 2020 by Charles Parr, Swindell, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.